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Israel, the US Elections and the “Jewish Swing Vote”

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This Real News Network segment demonstrates that Jewish voters in the US are less monolithic and less hawkish than media commentary would have you believe. It also suggests that the belligerence toward Iran is driven by the desire to curry favor with some extreme right wing Jewish billionaires who are big political donors rather than voters.


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40 comments

    1. Zhu Bajiei

      Christian Zionists, Dispensationalism and the “cowboys and Indians” mythology of Americans play big roles, too.

  1. LucyLulu

    I agree. Between AIPAC, pro-Israel hawks throwing their millions behind GOP candidates, a Republican party eager to promote any issue that might cast Obama in a bad light, and a media fanning the flames on the myth of an “existential threat to Israel”, Americans seem more convinced of a threat to Israel than those who live in Israel. The Jewish citizens of Israel haven’t even cast their support of an attack on Iran. Last I heard only 40% backed a strike on Iran. I would guess that American Jews are well informed of the various factors and biases at work.

    Obama may say he can’t stop Israel if they choose to attack. Baloney. He has considerable influence he is choosing not to use. We give them $3 billion in aid every year (to buy their weapons) and if they lose the only real foreign support they have, they will find themselves isolated from the international community. For Obama, this is strictly a political decision. If he puts pressure on Israel not to attack, the Republicans will immediately pounce on him as being anti-Israel and pro-Muslim. Obama is unwilling to risk alienating any potential voters. Perhaps Israel is bluffing and Obama knows this, too. It wouldn’t be a smart move on Israel’s part to risk harming our interests in the area. It boils down to them needing us a whole lot more than we need them.

    Does anybody really know what was said when Obama and Netanyahu met earlier this month?

  2. James Sterling

    The typical Jewish voter has always voted Democratic. Just like Republican Americans talk like they’re the only Real Americans, and Republican Christians talk like they’re the only Real Christians, so Republican Jews talk like they’re the only Real Jews.

    The idiocy of bipartisan centrist Democrats is that they say they have to adopt right wing values to appeal to “American”, or “Christian” or “Jewish” voters. What are the voters to the left of center, chopped liver?

  3. Conscience of a Conservative

    This piece ignores a big reality in Republican politics. The religious right is deeply and strongly supportive of Israel. The truth is that there are far less identifying Jews in this country than perceived becuase of intermarriae and assimilation.

    It’s also true that traditionally Jewish voters went Democratic due to the early Jewish role in labor movements and the fact that Jews identified more with socialist movements in Europe. Probably because they were discriminated against on a social, economic and political level in Europe. Today that’s changed as a not-small minority believe the Democratic party has shifted its focus and like many other immigrant populations as a result of education and economic success has seen some change their priorities and interests as well.

    1. Carla

      Yes, the Jewish vote is miniscule. It’s the Christian evangelical right vote that is the prize in this calculation, as others are pointing out here. Andrew Bacevitch mentioned this on Bill Moyers’show last night.

  4. polistra

    The evangelicals are the main factor, but there’s another strange thing involved.

    It’s not enough to think of politicians as “obeying the money”, doing what their major contributors and existing voters want. Democrats do that most of the time, but Republicans seem to operate more on envy than natural loyalty.

    Teacher’s unions and environmentalists and lawyers and Mexicans and Blacks and Jews are incurably D. Those groups are PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE of voting R. So logically R would never try to please them. Logically R would cut education funding, eradicate the genocidal mass-slaughtering EPA, pass tort reform, solidly oppose illegal immigration, oppose affirmative action, oppose Wall Street, and oppose Israeli bullying.

    If they did most of those things, they’d have the permanent loyalty of a significant majority of Americans. But they never do. They talk about some of those moves, but in fact they always follow the D position. Why? Because they don’t want the voters they have; they only want the voters they don’t have.

    Envy, not loyalty.

    1. Jim Haygood

      An alternative theory is that to run a successful duopoly, both ‘choices’ need to be as nearly homogeneous as Coke and Pepsi.

      Other than Ron Paul, those who oppose foreign aid in general — and in particular the grossly unjustified share of foreign aid going to Israel, now a rich OECD state — have nowhere to go within the Depublicrat political cartel.

      Blowing off voting entirely allows one to husband a scarce, valuable resource — one’s time and attention — on productive activities, rather than the degenerate, macabre sideshow of U.S. politics.

    2. apishapa

      Right Wing Evangelicals are working to speed up Armageddon. According to them when Israel rules the middle east, then Jesus will come take them all to heaven. Simplified version, but you hear it all the time out here in the crazy belt. They don’t love Jews except as it pertains to pushing to the end of the world. They really think they are all going to heaven no matter how evil they all are. And the sooner the better. If you spend time in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas etc you hear it a lot.

      1. F. Beard

        Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD,
        For what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you?
        It will be darkness and not light;
        As when a man flees from a lion
        And a bear meets him,
        Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall
        And a snake bites him.
        Amos 5:18-19 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

  5. middle seaman

    Listening to campaign rethotics is useless. There is genuine worry about an Iranian bomb in the whole Middle East. Billionaires are a minor element. The US approach to Iran was wrong from day one and is still wrong. Pakistan bomb is way more dangerous; it’s a failed state. The Iranian threat is transfer to Hezbollah like entity; the Iranian themselves will not drop a bomb and risk an Israeli retaliation.

    There are war mongers on all sides. Needed is a regional agreement that will include Iran and Israel and an Iranian bomb. The region should be limited in numbers, sizes and be under permanent control.

    1. Manchester Stan

      Pakistan, Israel and North Korea have nukes. I don’t see any imminent war mongering there. Don’t be deceived by the press, the Government, blogs, tv channels, industry, pamphlets, talking heads, politicans, red herrings, straw men, liars – this isn’t about reducing nuclear proliferation this is another sad policy failure. Apparently the only thing the US has to offer the world is violence to control our so-called interests.

    2. wunsacon

      >> Pakistan bomb is way more dangerous; it’s a failed state.

      Who’s to say that wasn’t the plan? Turn Pakistan into a failed state, to justify sweeping in to “safeguard the nukes from trrsts”. The only Muslim country that had nukes — now no more. (Hey, we wouldn’t want to let the existence of “a Muslim country with nukes” ruin the fear-wing proposition that a nuclear Muslim country would nuke us. Right??)

    3. Mark P.

      [1] If the Iranians — with far more more scientific talent and capital than North Korea — had seriously wanted a fission bomb, they would very likely have one by now.

      [2] Not incidentally, there are technologies out there that are going to radically reduce the capital and infrastructure necessary for building nuclear ordnance, putting it within the reach of even non-state actors. Consider Laser Isotope Separation (LIS)–

      http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/intro/u-laser.htm

      LIS is only the front end of the wave of industrial nuclear transmutation technologies that will arrive over the next two decades. We stand potentially at the dawn of the golden age of proliferation.

      [3] Hence, if Israel and the US keep up the saber-rattling or actually commit a preemptive strike — which can only be a delaying tactic worth a couple of years, besides creating enmity in the Iranian population as a whole — they are probably going to drive Iran to pursue nuclear deterrence more seriously and do that in a world where it’s becoming much easier to build nuclear weapons.

      [4] So a real preemptive strike rather than a bluff would be catastrophically stupid. Bibi is a Dunning-Kreuger poster child, however, so all bets are off.

      1. LucyLulu

        Israel has an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Iran doesn’t.

        Israel is threatening a pre-emptive military strike against Iran. Iran is not threatening a military strike against Israel.

        Israel has a recent history of air strikes against countries in the region. Iran does not.

        Tell me again, who is the threat to stability in the region and why?

        1. Mark P.

          ‘Tell me again, who is the threat to stability in the region and why?’

          Honestly, in the grown-up world _both_ Israel and the Tehran regime are aggressive threats to regional stability.

          Iran has the historical distinction of carrying out a preemptive attack on a nuclear reactor, for example, against the Iraqi Osirak/Tammuz reactor in 1980 — a job Israel then finished.
          http://www.iranian.com/main/2012/feb/thou-shall-not-attack-nuclear-sites

          The Israelis then supplied ordnance to Tehran so the latter could fight Saddam’s Iraq. Putting aside ideology as a crutch to relieve oneself of the burden of thinking, we see a situation where there’s a likely ascending regional power — Iran — and a probably declining one — Israel. One shouldn’t be naive about either competitor.

          The regional player that’s increasingly the most militarily worrisome, however, is neither Israel or Iran — both of whom are, maybe, overrated — but Hezbollah, a non-state actor. Those guys ran rings around Israel in the 2006 Lebanon war, using material like Volvo station-wagons as rocket-launcher platforms against Israeli Merkava tanks. If Hezbollah were to possess both real heavy ordnance and a real beef against the U.S., we’d have serious worries.

          “We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War”
          – Matthews, Matt (2007)
          http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/download/csipubs/matthewsOP26.pdf

  6. jake chase

    I cannot help thinking all this stuff about Iran is a rerun of the same rhetoric trumpeted about the Soviet Union for about forty years. There are always dangerous maniacs poised to annhiliate the entire world and it is up to “us” to stop them, although just about every time we “do” anything it is a keystone cops operation with disastrous results. Of course, it is impossible to disprove claims of this nature, which is the reason they have been working successfully in the US since 1946. The only real growth industry left seems to be propaganda. Haven’t figured out how to invest in it. Is FOX a public company?

  7. BillyBob

    Going left on Israel always costs an American politician, because it is done piecemeal, and AIPAC can – and does – focus attention on that politician. Going right on Israel never costs them anything. Public opposition to anything Likud, Beitenu etc. do is invariably met with cries of anti-semitism, self-hating Jew etc., cries which are amplified by our brainless news media. Like most Americans in general, most American Jews favor a more even-handed policy in the Middle East and have done so all along, but like American politicians, until they can say so in chorus, they will remain in the Israeli right and AIPAC’s veal pen.

  8. Hampton Castles

    Jews and non-jews both want an end to Militarism and TBTF control of the US Government. Apartheid, genocide, theft of land and the true motivations behind conflict are always hidden. Wall Street remains fiercly committed to damaging the quality of a majority of American lives so that a smaller number can remain more powerful, enjoy access, and become more wealthy. The indifference is stunning, sociopathic and they will fight and snarl and lobby to keep things the way they are.
    Each bought and owned Legislator will serve this power. the plight of citizens as they scurry about seeking work or housing is less relevant than how they can be exploited: in prison, slave labor or temporary white collar employment. We’re constantly induced to fear what happens if we step outta line: you’ll lose your home, your credit, your health insurance. At some point we embraced an open air prison in the USA, on behalf of Wall Street. 70 hours of work or you die. Right now, our Big Banks are assisting in punishing innocent Iranian men, women and children. If you ask them, and ask us, we have dangerous gangsters in control of each country.

  9. jabre

    Obviously, it’s the billionaire Jews. It couldn’t possibly be any more complex than that description. It’s also those darn South Korean jewish billionaires driving hostile North Korean policy as well.

    1. Pentagone Spielberg

      The Gov’mint has the Hebrew’s Lost Arc in storage at an undisclosed facility. However, the wiley semites will confuse the ‘Murican redneck: Is Benjamin Bernanke an islamic-inflationist? A jewish doppleganger? Or one of the good jews?

  10. brian

    AIPAC is essentially a foreign agent and should be treated as such
    taking their support is the equivalence of taking campaign support from a foreign power and should be seen as such
    putting the interests of another country ahead of the US

    its called treason

    1. Lambert Strether

      All the billionaires, Jewish or not, are trans- or post national. CItizenship to them is a flag of convenience; Murdoch is only the most extreme case. They control public policy because they own the government, but not to public purpose, because it is not in their interest to do so. See under, over the last twenty years or so, simultaneously moving all productive work overseas, and transforming this country into a second-world extractive economy with a tiny overclass and a corrupt state, like Saudi Arabia or Nigeria. It follows that the billionaires, as a class, are treasonable: “putting the interests of another country ahead of the US.”

      1. Salviati

        While you are correct that citizenship is a flag of convenience to the billionaire club, do not discount the economic value that an Apartheid regime generates for the wealthiest members of the racially privileged group. This is why their perceived “loyalty” to the state of Israel exceeds their perceived “loyalty” to the US.

  11. Salviati

    I can even remember how long I have been hearing about “the Jewish vote”, the whole notion is laughable. US elections have little to nothing to do with citizens voting at the booth and everything to do with determining policy with the wallet. Politicians are preselected by those with the financial resources and then offered to the general public to select from.

    Whether the American Jewish public prefer liberal over rightwing policies has the same relevance as whether they prefer swiss over cheddar, to what candidates we are offered.

    If you want to understand why specific foreign an domestic policies are pursued you look at how the billionaires benefit. In the case of Israel, its quite obvious. Jewish billionaires benefit from the Apartheid premium that the “Jewish state” affords them. So they pay a nominal fee in the form of campaign contributions here and reap the rewards abroad by being members of the privileged race who can own assets and run private entities enjoying subsidies from the Jewish State and from the US.

    1. SidFinster

      I don’t get it. Considering that American Jews are overwhelmingly concentrated in overwhelmingly Blue states – even if every American Jew were suddenly to reject the last 100 or so years of stable voting patterns and unanimously vote R, MA, NY, IL and CA would still remain resoundingly in the Donkey Camp.

      FL may or may not go either way, but I doubt it will be the Jewish voate that swings it.

      As regards Christian evangelicals – they will not vote for Obama regardless of what he does.

  12. sgt_doom

    I agree that this is disturbing, but what I find equally disturbing were all the endorsements Mitt Romney received this week:

    The Week of Official Endorsements for Mitt Romney

    This week Jeb Bush endorsed the Mittster!

    Not to be outdone, Jeb’s son, that psycho-stalker and property vandal, also endorsed Mitt Romney.

    In keeping with the Jeb Bush family tradition, Jeb’s daughter, who has a permanent residence at a Florida rehab center, called from rehab to say she also endorses “Mitch Ronnie.”

    (Go easy on her, she’s done a lot of drugs.)

    The Etch-A-Sketch company, the Ohio Art Company (based in Shenzhen, China), also endorsed Romney, stating: “We love Romney because he’s sketchy, just like our favorite product!”

    Newt Gingrich’s ex-wives all officially endorsed Romney, saying, “Anything is preferable to Newt, but if Rocky, Bullwinkle or one of the Muppets runs, we’ll switch our endorsement.”

    The Private Equity Council also officially endorsed Mitt, proclaiming, “Romney was our favorite asset stripper.”

    Do they have pole dancing contests for asset strippers?

    Late Breaking News: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is still undecided, but hinted they are leaning towards endorsing the pole dancing contest!

  13. aoogah aoogah

    This can only be described as an eerie calm. Where are the legions of whining, mewling Hasbara scolds, writing in a uniform Gilbert Gottfried voice to explain why all of natural and human history dictates the conditions of the Palestinian people, namely, why they have to starve em, hood em, beat em, squash em, rip their arms off, hork big ropy lungers on em, bomb em, pen em up in concentration camps, and shake em till they can’t add two and two?

  14. liberal

    It’s been common knowledge for quite a long time that the Jewish leadership in the US is more right-wing and hawkish than the rest.

  15. Kunst

    How useful are nuclear weapons, really? They didn’t help us win in Korea or Vietnam, or Afghanistan for that matter. Iran’s hardening of its nuclear facilities wouldn’t stop a hydrogen bomb, but I don’t hear any talk about busting their bunkers that way. None of the world’s nuclear powers has used those weapons since World War II. Any that does (including the US) will be an instant pariah. The only realistic opportunity to use them would be in a defensive mode, such as on an invading army. The effort is being made to portray Iran’s leadership as “irrational” (as opposed to North Korea, for example), because that’s what it would take to actually use a nuclear weapon offensively. Much as Iran’s leaders might dislike Israel, they are not going to nuke Tel Aviv. Pony up all the stupid quotes you want; that’s still the reality.

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